Why hello dear internet. I’ve missed you. I took a break from my self-admiring blog and from most other things that I’ve efforted toward for so long. I still went down a canyon or two, but October was a good break.

Anyways, now my shift work opposite wants to change his schedule to stop working a large block of shifts [originally done to get a block of time off], so the [travel] party is at an end. And I want it too…

Utah Canyon Country

The end of September was snowy in the Colorado mountains, so Dan and I decided to road trip to our favorite place in the world, southeast Utah. Lookit this amazing forecast!! Note sarcasm + foreshadowing.

Robber's Roost Utah forecast

We drove in on a Friday and it was all dreamy desert-ness: 60s, a light breeze, and cloudless skies giving way to a clear, star-filled night.

Robber's Roost Utah Robber's Roost Utah

Robber's Roost Utah

Robber's Roost Utah

Robber's Roost Utah

Robber's Roost Utah

Robber's Roost Utah

We woke up the next morning to thunder at 8 AM, meaning I was extremely disoriented. Did we sleep through three days of good weather and reached the far end of forecast? Was it actually 5 PM? Nope, it was daybreak and thunder storming.

Robber's Roost Utah
BUT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE BLUE SKIES.
Robber's Roost Utah
Boo.

Dan and I waited until midday and then did half of High Spur Canyon, turning back when we reached an 8 ft deep pool. First, can I say that I came up with the brilliant idea of tying the rope around a rock to estimate pool depth? The height of my critical thinking skills! My self-satisfaction was barely contained. Second, after seeing enough dead animals in canyons, my desire to go mouth-deep in a murky pool of standing water is zero. So we hiked back and found an exit point.

Robber's Roost Utah High Spur Canyon

Robber's Roost Utah High Spur Canyon

Back at the car, while lazing in the truck, I found and thoroughly enjoyed this QUADRUPLE CHIP. I love folded chips so this was the best chip I’ve ever had.

Chip heaven

And this sweet sunset:

Robber's Roost Utah

The next morning brought gray skies again. The weather was NOT AS ADVERTISED. Who is accountable for this?? I want to assign blame. Descending into slot canyons with non-blue sky doesn’t feel great. And all I want is to feel great.

Robber's Roost Utah

Pancakes
We waited to see what the weather would do. And made well-flipped pancakes.

We did complete the entirety of Tidewell Canyon, an awesome one. And saw a tarantula along the way.

Robber's Roost Utah
Tarantula surprise.

Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon

Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon

Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon

Dan and I arrived at a decision point, where if we continued we’d be in a narrower, slow-going part of the canyon for another few hours. There was a tiny sliver of sky to base the decision on, which was ideal. Obviously I’m not writing this from beyond the grave, so everything worked out.

We decided to go forth into the tight slot canyon and then rappelled two sections that we would have to re-ascend later [meaning it would take a while]. Near the turn around point the sky turned a darker shade of gray and the wind started whistling through the narrows. And because I have a specially honed anxiety response, I was thinking we’d be that dreadful flash-flooded couple, showcased in a what-not-to-do outdoor article. So we hurried back to the ropes we left fixed and re-ascended, aka struggled heavy-breathing and bloody knuckle style. Dang it’s hard to ascend ropes!

Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon

Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon
Turn around point.
Robber's Roost Utah Tidewell Canyon
Re-ascending.

Then we fast-walked out of the canyon for 2 hours with a dark sky overhead, but no raining/flash flooding occurring. Dan drove us a little ways to a sweet camping spot and we enjoyed a cold leftover dinner. It was way too windy to try and use the stove. I read for several hours then went to sleep with the wind rocking the truck. Guess what the next morning brought??

Robber's Roost Utah
Snow. The answer is snow and 30 degrees. I know you must feel for my plight.

Fuck this. I immediately was like TIME TO GO HOME. I agitatedly read while Dan slept because it was 7 AM but right when he woke up I was like PACK UP WE’RE GOING HOME. And he was like wtf, I am still in the forth stage of sleep. Anyways, to say that I am impulsive and impatient is an understatement.

So we drove out, super sad because this was supposed to be our good-bye summer slash we-love-the-desert trip and it was RUINED. My liberal use of caps lock is probably irritating by now, but I’m guessing only Dan has read this far so, HI 🙂

I-70 drive in September 2017

But the crappy weather feels so fitting in retrospect. I was driving my turn on I-70, going 80 mph when Dan read the news that Tom Petty died. He is far and away my favorite musician, whose songs played in the background of my youth and during the best adventures I’ve had in my life. I had a visceral reaction, pain and grief and difficulty breathing through the ugly sobs, just like when I’ve found out about actual-people-in-my-life deaths’. The sharpness  of this was obviously much shorter-lived, but had the same feel and flavor at its peak. That night I watched Running Down a Dream and posted his picture to Instagram because how the hell else do you eulogize someone you don’t actually know?

Tom Petty

Home + Work

After this trip I worked my block of shifts, stopped running so much, started “practicing yoga” [said smugly], visited my goat friend multiple times a week to discreetly feed him grass and convince him to tolerate me, did more friend stuff, and read a lot more. I also started thinking about going back to school to become a nurse practitioner. Blah, still not sure.

Goat

Goat

Spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash gift from a friend.
Homemade sushi
Look how fancy. We’ve been frequenting Hmart to buy the materials to make homemade sushi.

The last few months have been a roller coaster at work, but I’m slow in catching on that it’s probably normal in the medical field (and everywhere). Because you know, humans and sick humans are roller coaster-y. Too many patients that make me cry on the drive home. Too many teen-aged quadriplegics on ventilators, too many vegetative state thirty/forty-something year-olds with young kids playing quietly in the corner while their dad just exists in a hospital bed, worse than a shadow of his former self. Part of me wishes I never knew this shit was a thing, that I never went into the medical field. But the morbid, I think-about-mortality-frequently part of me knows I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. Also my co-workers are awesome and I’m at the point where I have friends at work. Weee look at me, no longer the awkward newcomer at the middle school lunch table. No, still awkward.

If you weren’t aware, it’s fall:

Fall

Original Homeland

I went home for my last five day weekend. Good ole Maryland/Virginia. Sometimes I idealize moving back. It’s  usually when I see friends and family…like why would I move away from so many people that love us? But then I remember the cold, unfeeling mountains that don’t love us back, and I snap back into rearranging life around inanimate objects.

So I spent a day with my three BFFs and it was one of my favorite days ever. Eight hours of laughing and connection and feeling rooted to something real. There’s nothing in the world like being with a childhood friend. Nothing like growing up in elementary school together, stumbling through teenage awkwardness, and arriving at *BLINK* 31 years old and buying houses and bearing children and being actual adults. It’s surreal and heartbreaking and beautiful and makes life feel so full to see my childhood friends living life.

Butler's Orchard
Some random game at a farm. In the spirit of a basic fall day we got apple cider and pumpkin spice lattes……

I also spent lots of time with my mom and it was awesome. We were lazy and ate late breakfasts of pancakes and eggs, made pot after pot of [decaf] coffee, picked apples at an orchard set in the rolling Virginia hills, baked a ton, watched American Made, went on walks through downed leaves while carrying to-go lattes. It was relaxing and comforting.

Cat
One second later my mom’s cat darted away, she must not like a large rectangular object in her face or something.

Home

So now I’m at the end of my last block schedule, transitioning to my days off being sprinkled throughout the week. This summer was the best of my adult life. We traveled for five days every two weeks x8 months. I’m tired. And feeling something foreign: contentment, satiation, fulfillment. The hunger for more travel and adventure has been there for so long, it’s weird that it’s missing. But now I want to rest, hang out with friends more, get a dog. Hah, seriously. We took care of our friends’ older dog and puppy for a long weekend and my baseline “I want a puppy” desire is now at a fever pitch.

The end.

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4 Comments

  1. What a summer you had. I love the pictures of slot canyons with red mud. I really miss having a cat, but with our way of traveling, it’s not reasonable to have pets. Perhaps some day after we settle down. Hope your work goes well and not drive you too crazy. Cheers.

  2. ashleyoutside Reply

    Yes a pet would make those longer international trips a little harder. Hope you’re having fun on your trip!

  3. Wow Ashley, what a wonderful description of your hikes, home, work, and life in general. I’m sure I’ve told you this before that I can’t get enough of slot canyons. I love seeing your photos. That first one of you in that narrow, wavy canyon is so cool. I’d never thought of dead animals floating around in the water! I too am a big Tom Petty fan and am very sorry that he is no longer with us. On a happier note, I’m glad you had great summer and spent time with family and old friends…that’s the best!

    • ashleyoutside Reply

      Thanks so much Caroline 🙂 I always appreciate your comments

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